After writing public comments on meaningful use, submitting grant proposals and trying to keep pace of healthcare reform, the comment period has just begun. With the formation of the Regional Extension Centers, State HIT coordinators being nominated, Health Information Exchanges gaining more traction and countless vendors trying to obtain your stimulus money, a CIO’s involvement in “reaching out” is more important than ever.
If you are too busy to get involved, or believe your voice won’t count, you might want to think twice as many of these newly formed entities will impact your ability to receive stimulus funding and may also drive costly decisions if you are not aligned and part of the conversation early. So here are my recommended groups to make contact with this week as well as a few key questions for you to ask. It is probably not a complete list and I would love to hear your recommendations:
Regional Extension Centers
Find out which Regional Extension Center is closest to you and reach out early. It is very early in the process and they are willing to hear from you (in my experience).
1. What is your approach in assisting your region related to EMR’s?
2. What partnerships, vendor / public / private / college, have already been created and how do you see those partnerships helping smaller physician offices and rural clinics?
3. How can our Health System help in the region with your approach?
Health Information Exchange
With the wide variety of HIE’s around the country and with many HIE’s just starting the questions may be different, but these still should be relevant. I would also recommend that you contact ALL of the HIE’s that surround you, not just the one you may connect with, or will connect with, today.
1. What is the timeline to address the meaningful use requirements, not only in 2011,but the proposed requirements for subsequent years and how can you help us?
2. Walk me through the following scenarios – What occurs when your largest customer moves to another HIE or product? What is your plan when someone inappropriately accesses information on the HIE and how do you know when that happens?
3. What additional value will you deliver to ensure the viability of the HIE continues after grant funding ends?
State Designated HIT Coordinator / Entity
Each state either has, or soon will have a state designated entity and State Healthcare IT coordinator. As with Regional Extension Centers it is generally early in the formation of these entities and positions and it is well worth your time to reach out early and get involved.
1. What work has been done already in coordinating state Healthcare IT efforts?
2. What governance model is in place, or is being put in place, what committees are in place or being planned and how can we get involved?
3. How do you see your role impacting all of the work already going on within the state and what are your first priorities?
College / University / Higher learning
With the impending drain of trained resources and grants attempting to assist in Healthcare IT training, you might find it useful to see how your new work force will be trained. While these questions are best suited for the institutions that received grant funding I can tell you that others are wondering how they can get into the action as well.
1. What is your timeline to start any program that is relevant to Healthcare IT training?
2. Would you be interested in working with the local Healthcare institutions to understand our needs before finalizing your training plans?
3. How can we help in the training by offering internships, mentoring, tutoring, guest lectures, etc. so we stay involved in the training process as we will be hiring your graduates?
Competing Facilities / Regional Hospitals / Physician Offices
Most of us have an open relationship with our competing hospitals or clinics, but it is important to continue to foster that open relationship.
1. How can we (continue to) collaborate around data exchange for our shared patient population?
2. Are you, or will you be offering electronic medical records to your physicians or affiliated physicians and if so have you chosen a product and how are you planning to exchange the data to other providers and to the patient?
Again this is not meant to be a complete list, but by making these calls and asking these questions you will be better educated on important work going on around you, and hopefully you become more engaged in the process.